LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2013) — The Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital has opened, offering children with Type 1 diabetes access to advanced treatment along with education for the whole family aimed at reducing the devastating complications of the disease.
“As pediatric diabetes specialists, our goal is to ensure that children with Type 1 diabetes live long, healthy, productive lives,” said Kupper A. Wintergerst, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist at Kosair Children’s Hospital and director of the Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center. “At the Wendy L. Novak Diabetes Care Center, we have every resource that our children and families need to achieve better blood sugar control to reduce the severe complications of diabetes, such as blindness, kidney damage, and cardiovascular and nerve disease.
“It’s not just about living, it’s about living healthy, happier lives and reducing the negative impact that diabetes can have on each child’s daily life.”
While the center offers treatment for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, more than 90 percent of the children seen at Kosair Children’s Hospital have Type 1, which was previously known as juvenile diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes usually is diagnosed in children and young adults, and occurs when cells in the pancreas, damaged by the immune system, produce little or no insulin. Insulin is necessary for moving blood sugar into cells for storage and use as energy. When the body does not make enough insulin, the blood sugar builds up and cannot turn into energy. While no one knows the exact cause, this autoimmune disorder can be fatal if not properly treated.Type 1 diabetes differs from Type 2 diabetes, which is more commonly diagnosed in adults but is becoming more prevalent in children. In Type 2, the body becomes resistant to the insulin it produces, often due to weight gain, poor diet and lack of activity. Ultimately, this results in high blood sugar as well. People with Type 1 diabetes must test their blood sugar several times per day. Treatment includes taking multiple insulin injections or using an insulin pump every day, along with maintaining proper diet and exercise. Currently there is no cure.
The center is part of a $12 million initiative to advance diabetes care for children at Kosair Children’s Hospital and was established with a $5 million gift from the Lift a Life Foundation to the Children’s Hospital Foundation. The Lift a Life Foundation was formed in 1999 through a charitable trust by David and Wendy Novak and provides innovative grants to nonprofit partners serving Kentucky.
[pullquote_left]“It’s not just about living, it’s about living healthy, happier lives and reducing the negative impact that diabetes can have on each child’s daily life.”[/pullquote_left]
In addition to the physical center, the gift will provide support to hire additional staff, including a physician, diabetes educators and nurse practitioner specialists; enhance medical, technological and educational resources and programs available to families; and improve inpatient and outpatient care facilities.
“This is a great opportunity to do something that can give children with Type 1 diabetes in our region a chance at a healthier future,” said David Novak, founder of the Lift a Life Foundation and chairman and chief executive officer of Yum! Brands, headquartered in Louisville. “Our family has been affected by Type 1 diabetes, and we felt this was an opportunity to build one of the best diabetes care centers in the country.”
“Thanks to the generosity of the Novaks and the Lift a Life Foundation, we have a unique opportunity to improve the care we can provide to children with diabetes,” said Lynnie Meyer, MSN, R.N., CFRE, executive director of the Children’s Hospital Foundation. “We’ll now have the ability to provide more advanced programming and education aimed at helping families better manage their child’s diabetes.”
More than 1,200 children are currently being treated for Type 1 diabetes by specialists at Kosair Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville. Approximately 150 children are diagnosed each year, of whom nearly 50 percent require hospitalization in the “Just for Kids” Critical Care Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital.
“We’ve seen a 20 percent increase in hospital admissions due to Type 1 diabetes since 2008,” said Dr. Wintergerst, who also is associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “The incidence of diabetes is showing no sign of slowing here or across the world.”
“The Lift a Life Foundation exists to help people in need,” said Ashley Novak Butler, director, Lift a Life Foundation. “Helping children manage their diabetes and avoid the devastating complications of the disease will help them meet, and hopefully exceed, their expectations for a full and healthy life. We can’t think of a better result from an investment.”
“Type 1 diabetes has been on the rise for the past 50 years and is growing annually, especially in younger age groups,” Dr. Wintergerst said. “Thanks to the Lift a Life Foundation and the generosity of the community, this new center offers an incredible opportunity for our community and state to develop a premier center for care, education and clinical research focused on improving the lives of countless children living with diabetes.”